Repatriates Assembly

Insufficient help for the survivors of domestic violence

How to ensure that victims are protected and accessed to the justice?

The coronavirus epidemic and quarantine have aggravated relations, even in prosperous families. According to the UN, this situation has been evolving almost all over the world, especially in countries where a strict lockdown has been introduced merely. Domestic violence cases have almost tripled in China and France. Self-isolation has served as a trigger in indigenous tyrants to take out their anger. However, since official statistics have shown a reduction in household conflicts, the activists from civil liberties have approved real circumstances. Women and children are those who suffered the most in these forced self-isolations. Dina Tansari, a women's rights activist and co-founder of the “NeMolchi” fund, was interviewed for this topic to clarify the issues of violence in our country and she discussed the prevention measures as well.

How did the pandemic and quarantine become a trigger for the aggressors?

Domestic abuse has remained a global issue in many countries nowadays. It is considered one of the most widespread and flagrant violations of rights and freedoms against women, men and children. In many parts of the world, self-isolation and strict quarantine have served as catalysts for the house tyrants to vent their rage. Foremost, the issue was anxiety and fear for the future, a lack of understanding when these problems would end and what they would lead to, and aggression has definitely spilled out on their family members. Unluckily, it was not only women who suffered, but children as well. To be specific, there was such a powerful surge of abuse against them in 2020, proving the fact that children had switched to online learning. As aggressors, they are accustomed to blaming the current environment for everything that means, for all the complexities of their lives. If we assume that people faced problems at work, they managed to take out the evil on their families. For example, if a man had problems with his parents, health, alcohol or something else, he would put all his anger and aggression on those who were weaker or were afraid of him. And, from here, we can notice a massive influx of brutality, precisely during the pandemic.

In what cases are special requirements imposed on the transgressor?

In accordance with Dina Tansari, the three perpetrators are specifically issued in cases of abuse, but it usually takes a long road to reach these special requirements. Unfortunately, the problem is that our police is literally on the side of the aggressors. Those people devalue punishable crimes against women to such an extent. In addition, they do not perceive the house brutality as a crime, as they understand it as a simple family scandal, and they turn a blind eye even to some severe forms of beatings.

“Last night we had a call from Kokshetau. A wife was strangled by her husband, practically killed by him, but her children saved her. He began to strangle her unexpectedly. Just like that, he came home from work angry and began to kick the dishes and throw furniture. She closed herself in the room, hoping that he would somehow outrage his aggression and one way splash out on things. But nevertheless, he went into her room, and she was practically putting the child to bed, and he began to choke her again. This is a common form of violence, absolutely standard, classic, when the aggressor cannot stop or change his aggression and shifts to pour it out on loved ones. This is what the police staff do in these cases. They do not accept a statement, do not reply to the call, so they are just used to arrive on the third call. First of all, they take an alcoholic mother who are nurturing three children in her arms. The youngest child is two years old, and the eldest one is six years old. They take her to testify, and then, there is no doubt that a scandal begins. Also, there have been the volunteers who have already joined there. That's when only the police on the third attempt are lucky enough to witness the aggressor himself on the third attempt. When we immediately demanded special requirements, at the same time, for his behavior, because this case already happened last year and they already gave him a restraining order”, - said Dina.

In such kind of problems, they naturally refuse, because it will all reset to zero after one year. Since it happened the previous year, they began to count a defense how many protection attempts he had, and now they insisted that the constabulary and Dina herself already connected to the assistance desk, and she requested the perpetrators to relocate forcibly. Because, in accordance with a restraining order, that is issued at the first beating, as they might be obliged to assess an aggressor by writing out the restraining request at the initial application.

“In the second case, if the housing in which they live does not belong to him, in this situation, the housing in which this family lives belongs to the mother of the victim; therefore, we have the right to immediately resettle them on these grounds. I sent a request to the PSG service of the Akmola region, and said that, along with the district police officer, they should come and take away his necessary things so that he would not appear on the threshold of the house for three months. If he violates a restraining order, you will not receive special requirements under another order. If he violates the terms of the protective order, which means a ban on approaching, then he cannot meet with relatives, threaten people, or go beyond any limits”, - said Dina Tansari.

Besides that, if an individual has violated the terms of a restraining request, the constabulary must take it seriously and bring the issue to the court. Unfortunately, this does not always happen nowadays. The police staff will explain that nothing terrible has happened, but if the woman insists, they will simply be obliged to send the case to court. In court, he will be given three to five days after arrest, and then the defendant's wife has the right to demand special requirements for the behavior of the aggressor, and she will require him not to approach her for six months or a year (it depends on the discretion). In this case, the women will ask that he not approach them for at least a year, and they will mean that he does not have the right to approach the special requirements as well as the restraining order. In addition, he does not have the right to drink alcohol, does not have permission to use drugs, or keep weapons. Unfortunately, there is a circular system at work here; everything is looped in order to return him to administrative responsibility.

According to Dina Tinsari, it is necessary to toughen the punishment for sexual harassment to prevent these cases. 

"We can't change anything because that's how the law works. And, if we don’t revise these norms now, we won’t start thinking in the direction of toughening and not in the direction of humanization. Let's count how many gambits of brute force there are, and what are the consequences of brutality. Our women remain invalids very often. We have two cases where young women were forced to jump out of windows in order to avoid being sexually assaulted. There is proof that she was raped and committed suicide. These women remained disabled in the care of the state. The state will support them until the end of their lives because someone encroached on their honor. We do not consider what costs we incur by supporting these disabled people who are beaten by their husbands", - added Dina Tansari.

What assistance is envisaged to gambits by the state and civil society?

In our country, women who experience household brutality do not receive sufficient protection and access to justice. But the government still needs to take urgent steps to address gaps in legislation and barriers that survivors of brutality face in seeking equity or accessing special social services.

“The authorities of our state do not adequately prevent domestic brutality and they didn`t convey its perpetrators to justice. The police generally do not inform women about the particular public services and available protection mechanisms, including the right to a place in a shelter and a restraining order. In July 2017, Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev, enacted a legislation decriminalizing “Beating” and “Intentional infliction of minor bodily harm” – articles most often used to investigate and prosecute cases of household violence – and their elimination actually excludes the possibility of forcing the aggressor to criminal liability in most cases of domestic thuggery”, - said Dina Tansari.

According to official data, in 2009 our state adopted a law “On the Prevention of Domestic Brutality” that defined household brutality as “An intentional unlawful act (action or inaction)” against the “Spouse, former spouse, individuals living alone or together, close relatives, or persons nurturing a common child (children)”. The system of laws introduced the institution of a restraining order, which provides for a 30-day ban on contact between the aggressor and victim and secures the right of survivors of violence to receive a place in a shelter and other significant social services. However, neither the rules and regulations nor the Criminal Code specifically criminalizes brutality, as in this case.

Why does society justify domestic abuse with traditions, religious views, and how to get rid of gender stereotypes?

In most of the countries in the world, various public organizations and authorities deal with this problem, revealing its latency and complexity, as well as its long-standing rootedness in the deep layers of mass ideas about the relationship between people in the family. Also, it is noted that the imperfection of the necessary rules designed to regulate these relationships is troubling too.

“First of all, abuse is justified because there are no other laws. For example, Georgia is a country that also has a lot of all kinds of folk traditions and national religious relations within its own family. But later than 2014, Georgian activists managed to get the government to adopt a foreign convention in the country. After that, they began to pass one after another law that protects women. Now in Georgia, everything is very tough on household brutality. If a man raises his hand against woman and the police somehow become aware of this, then neighbors, relatives, or the victim can immediately report the problem. In these issues, the man immediately gets the punishment for a year. If this happens for the second or third time, then he is already facing a term of much more than a year. If he kills a woman, performing all the actions and beating him repeatedly beforehand, and afterwards murders her, then this is already considered femicide in Georgia and they have a separate article for it. That means a murderer is allowed to act on gender instructions. That is, they toughened a sentence for this”, - Dina noted.

According to the co-founder of the “NeMolchi” fund, domestic abuse has been out of the public interest in Russia for many years, for a variety of reasons. However, women's organizations for the protection of human rights have managed to draw the attention of the media and government bodies to it over the last two decades, showing the acuteness and paramount importance of this problem not only for the personal well-being of people, but also for solving many social disputes – from overcoming the demographic crisis to the democratization and modernization of the country. In Russia, networks of crisis centers are operating successfully, and they are involved in both the rehabilitation of gambits of the violence and its prevention. Because of their efforts, the socio-psychological aspects of domestic violence were covered successfully, the cycles of brutality were diagnosed, and its types and cases were described as well.

“In our opinion, much less attention was paid in that activity to the legal side of this issue. Meanwhile, it is legal support that can prevent cases of brutal force and guarantee its elimination. That means the protection of human rights and freedoms in the family circle. In particular, it is indicative that in our country, unlike in other states of the world, victims of domestic violence generally do not turn to the law enforcement agencies. And if they do, it is only when their lives are already in serious danger. Only at this moment they submit a statement to the police. According to the gambits, the danger no longer threatens them. They ask (or succumb to the persuasion) employees of the internal affairs bodies to “Return the request”. Over time, internal affairs officers develop stereotypes of passive behavior in relation to cases of household brutality, and they generally stop responding to these statements”, - Dina Tansari added.

How should notable people behave if they will instantly become innocent victims of domestic violence?

If people are facing or experiencing violence, then they need to take the following actions:

  • Contact the police immediately, or you must be registered through portal (online application). You have the right to require a police officer to go to the scene of domestic violence;
  • In case of injury, call an ambulance. Obtain a referral from a police officer for a forensic medical examination;
  • To reach the helpline number, dial 150 or +7 (708) 106-08-10 (WhatsApp), or visit the website. You will be provided with psychological and legal assistance and be presented with contacts for precincts and crisis centers.

Crisis centers exist in every region. However, victims of domestic violence can be helped by telephone.

What actions and measures should be taken in the country to prevent the domestic violence?

“We are deeply convinced that the problem of domestic brutality can be solved in our country only through the joint efforts of public and state structures. Their interaction is necessary in order to train law enforcement officials and explain the legal basis of internal cruelty to its victims”, - a women's rights activist claimed.

In order to establish effective interaction between those social organizations that deal with household violence issues and law enforcement agencies, it is necessary to look at the problem of domestic violence from the point of view of police officers. First of all, this is compulsory to district the commissioners. It is the legal aspect of the problem that is considered important to them. Due to that, they need to understand whether domestic violence in each case is a crime, and they must decide how to investigate and stop it.

(The images were taken from the personal archive of co-founder of the “NeMolchi” fund and open sources)